Creative Multilingualism in Schools
In June Prof. Jane Hiddleston and Dr Laura Lonsdale ran three workshops for Year 10 pupils from two East London schools, Haggerston School in Hackney and St Paul’s Way Trust School in Tower Hamlets, where a very high proportion of students speak more than one language. The aim of these workshops, which took place in both London and Oxford, was to engage and celebrate the linguistic and cultural diversity of these schools and their local communities, encouraging pupils to think positively and creatively about both the languages they speak at home and the languages they are learning at school. With over 20 languages in the room, from Bengali to Romanian, we had a good number to work with! The first session focused on linguistic diversity as a source of creativity, the second introduced students to poems and prose texts employing more than one language (including either French or Spanish), and the final session was devoted to the students’ own creative, multilingual writing. We were very impressed by the way they rose to the occasion, not only displaying some excellent reading skills but writing haikus, cinquains, acrostics and more in several languages. We were privileged to work with two highly dedicated and talented teachers, James Johnson and Ciara Mulvenna, both Oxford ML graduates, and would like to thank them for the time they invested in this innovative project, which has been two years in the making. We aim to publish the students’ writing on the Creative Multilingualism website and produce a printed booklet of their work.